As I thought about what to write about this week, it hit me like a ton of bricks. A while back the question was posed as to why bad things happen to good people when they are trying so hard to live right and do the right things in their lives.
The answer is not as complicated as it might appear to be on the surface. The fact is when we are sailing on a calm sea, there is no reason to grow. We just lay back and enjoy the ride. There is no reason to be challenged. Hardships and trials are tools used to help us grow. Facing adversity makes us rethink thinks we have grown comfortable with.
We are told in Heb 12:5-9 “5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!”
God allows things to happen in order for us to grow, to learn and to expand the depth of our faith. When we do not endure trials and hardships we become stagnate, we just drift along on the sea of glass believing that we have it made. Our faith becomes shallow and easily cracked.
Proverbs 3:11-12 tells us this,11 “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
Just as when my children still to this day do something that is not right, I discipline them. Not because I do not love them, but because I do. I refuse to cover it up, pretend it didn’t happen and overlook it. When they endure hardships, I teach them that it helps them to grow. As my mother used to tell me it builds character. Our ability to handle hardships, trials, tribulation, disappointments, sorrow and loss, builds our Spiritual character. As the Hebrew writes states, helps us live.
How are you handling God’s discipline? Do you rant and rail against the “unfairness”? Do you ask why me? Do you look within to see if there is something that needs work? Or do you understand that there is a season and a reason for all things? That God has allowed these things to happen to teach something to you? Only you can answer these questions. Remember this as the writer states in Proverbs 3:11-12 “My son do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
Embrace your trials, and tribulations. Bottom line they are part of God’s love.
As I was studying for our Ladies Bible Class I read something that hit me. The writer made this statement ,“ But as I ran, I noticed more and more people tangled up in the weeds…” As I thought about that statement, it made perfect sense.
When we first begin our race with Christ, we are excited and ready to run. We are at the starting line, warming up, shaking our body to loosen up the muscles, stretching our legs so we do not get leg cramps, and the when the gun goes off, we are running like we are never going to stop. All we see in our mind’s eye is that finish line, but then something happens.
We stumble on a weed, then we fall into the weeds and finally we get tangled in those weeds because we have no idea how to get out. We grow tired and weary of fighting the weeds which appear to multiply as we try to untangle them. After a time, others join us as they too have fallen over the weeds and found it was just easier to stay there and not fight to get out. We become complacent, lazy and comfortable in those weeds. We ask ourselves, “Why bother? It isn’t worth the effort it takes anyway.” Sometimes we might even say, “someone else will do it.”
Others run by us on their way to the finish line and we continue to sit as the weeds grow higher and higher. Pretty soon we are lost in the weeds.
There are two lessons here the first one is this, we have a race to run and to finish. There is no room for quitting. We are expected to run the race and to finish the race. We are expected to get up out of the weeds when we fall in them, brush ourselves off and continue the race. The second lesson is this, when we see someone in the weeds, it is our responsibility to stop reach down and help that person out of the weeds and to run with them to the finish line. We should never ever run by a fallen runner. When we allow ourselves to do that, we become tangled in our own weeds of lack of compassion, and complacency. Without stating it out loud we are saying that person should know better, or we don’t have time to encourage them or to hold out a hand.
Running a race is not easy. It takes mental health, physical strength and emotional endurance to run and complete a race. Notice I did not say we are expected to finish first. We are expected to finish the race. Even when we feel we need to just trip over that weed and sit down – we must not. My question is this, Are you tangled in the weeds?
We all have read the scripture where Paul asks God three times to remove the thorn from his side. We all know the answer God gave him. That answer was that God’s grace was sufficient for him.
We each have our own thorns in our side. The question is this do we embrace them and use them for God’s glory, or do we allow them to entangle us to the point that we give up or even worse become indifferent.? Or even better to we push them aside and run right through them?
In order to answer that question we have to go back to the basics and that is, are we using our gifts to please and glorify God or are we either not using our gifts or using our gifts for our own glory? The test is this, if we are using our gifts with a pure heart for God, we will be criticized, we will be questioned and we will be put under a microscope. The reason is because we have chosen to be bold and allow God to have the glory. The thorn we sometimes suffer is we allow those action to make us question ourselves. If our heart is pure and our motive is God’s glory, we should never ever question ourselves.
The devil is the reason for the self-doubt. He takes that thorn and pushed it inward, creating pain and agony. We must push past it. Remind ourselves that God is working in us. We are his vessel and if he did not think we were up to the job he would not have given us that gift, whatever that gift might be.
With pain comes growth, with criticism comes enlightenment and strength. But most of all we know that God is working that he is being glorified and that someone’s heart has been pricked.
Embrace those thorns, know that God’s grace is indeed sufficient and become even bolder, stronger and show God’s glory.